The European Commission has notified Altice of its decision to impose upon it a €124.5 million fine for gun jumping in connection with Altice’s acquisition of PT Portugal in June 2015. The Commission found that Altice infringed the prior notification obligation of a concentration under Article 4(1) of the EU Merger Regulation, and the stand-still obligation under Article 7(1) of the EU Merger Regulation.
In a statement, Altice has said it fully disagrees with the Commission’s decision, and in particular, it considers that this case differs entirely from the French Numéricable/SFR/Virgin gun jumping case, in which Altice had agreed not to challenge the allegations brought against it. In Altice’s opinion, the transaction agreement governing the management of the target during the pre-closing period provided Altice with a consultation right on certain exceptional matters relating to PT Portugal, and was in accordance with well-established M&A market practice.
Further, Altice said ot considers that the elements in the Commission’s file do not establish the exercise of influence, as alleged by the Commission, by Altice over PT Portugal’s business conduct neither prior to the merger notification to the Commission nor prior to the Commission’s clearance.
Altice believes this decision would have serious consequences for European companies, and also sets a precedent, which will have an impact on all future M&A transactions in Europe and consequently on the EU economy.
Altice will file an appeal against the Commission’s decision before the EU General Court to request that the decision as a whole be annulled or, at the very least, that the sanction be significantly reduced. The Commission’s decision does not affect the approval granted by the European Commission on April 20, 2015 for the acquisition of PT Portugal by Altice.